DraftKings NFL GPP Lineup Advice: Conference Championship Round (2020)
It’s Conference Championship week in the NFL, and that means a two-game slate. The small slate means tons of overlapping players between rosters, and being unique while also still getting exposure to your favorite plays who will be chalky can be tricky. Below, I feature a three “man” stack that could be somewhat unique as well as a pair of studs who are sure to be heavily owned.
Tevin Coleman (RB – SF): $5,700 vs. Packers
Raheem Mostert (RB – SF): $4,300 vs. Packers
49ers (D/ST – SF): $2,900 vs. Packers
Small slates can lead to some odd lineup constructions. Case in point, using a pair of running backs from the same team when they aren’t used vastly differently. This isn’t a case of using James White and Sony Michel because they offer different skill sets to the 49ers. Nope, this is simply using a couple of multi-faceted backs who I think should get plenty of work in a blowout home win.
The 49ers are 7.5-point favorites at home against the Packers, according to the BettingPros consensus. In Week 12, the Packers visited the 49ers for a Sunday Night Football contest and were bludgeoned to the tune of a 37 to 8 loss. Simply expecting the same outcome would be foolish. You don’t have to look far back to see a second matchup can go much differently than the first with the Chiefs roaring back from a quick deficit to smash a Texans squad that beat them earlier in the season. In this case, however, the 49ers are equipped to squash the Packers again.
Football Outsiders (FO) ranked the 49ers second in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). San Francisco’s defense was an elite unit that stumbled at times late in the season while dealing with injuries but was downright dominant at full health last week against the visiting Vikings. They held the Vikings to only 147 yards of offense, forced two turnovers, and sacked Kirk Cousins six times. Their only mistake was coughing up a 41-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs. When they played the Packers in Week 12, they held the visitors to just 198 of offense, forced one turnover, and recorded five sacks. For the whole season, they ranked tied for first in yards allowed per play (4.7), sixth in turnovers forced (27), tied for fifth in sacks (48), and second in pressure percentage (28.7%), per Pro-Football-Reference. It’s an elite unit that will undoubtedly be the chalk defense on this slate.
It’s also a defense fully capable of putting their offense in a position to gash Green Bay’s soft run defense on the ground. FO ranked the Packers 23rd in rush defense DVOA. For comparison’s sake, last week’s opponent, the Vikings, ranked ninth in rush defense DVOA and yielded 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries to Coleman and 58 rushing yards to Mostert on 12 carries. Matt Breida even chipped in with an inefficient 17 rushing yards and a lost fumble on eight carries.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t shy about riding his hot hand at running back, making it difficult to have full faith in any one back. If picking between the two, I’ll gladly fade recency bias and use the cheaper Mostert. However, if this turns into the boat race I’m expecting, both backs can amass 15 or more touches and get theirs. On a related note to my expected lopsided outcome, I’m currently completely fading the Packers on the short slate.
Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC): $7,700 vs. Titans
Derrick Henry (RB – TEN): $8,700 at Chiefs
You’ve now reached the chalky part of the programming. Mahomes and Henry should almost certainly be the highest-owned players at their respective positions. However, that’s for good reason. As you can deduce from the last sentence in the analysis above, Aaron Rodgers is a full fade for me. Additionally, if I’m expecting the 49ers to lean heavily on their running game in a blowout win, that also makes Jimmy Garoppolo a quarterback I’m not enthused to use. That leaves Ryan Tannehill and Mahomes, and the reigning MVP is the clearly superior option, though, I might ultimately end up with some Tannehill exposure by the weekend. At this point, however, I’m all in on Mahomes.
Fully healthy, he’s coming off of an eruption against the Texans for 321 passing yards and five touchdowns with 53 rushing yards for good measure last week. Back in Week 10 in Tennessee, he set a season-high with 446 passing yards and tossed three touchdowns in his first game back from his knee injury. The Titans are an easier team to beat through the air than on the ground, ranking 10th in rush defense DVOA but 21st in pass defense DVOA. For the season, they yielded the 13th-most DraftKings points per game to quarterbacks, according to Pro-Football-Reference, highest of the remaining our teams. They’ve also had issues with coughing up explosive plays, tying for the 10th-highest average explosive pass rate (nine percent) from Week 9 through Week 17, per Sharp Football Stats.
Mahomes’ rocket arm and cast of field stretchers that is headlined by speedster Tyreek Hill is fully capable of exacerbating Tennessee’s troubles with explosive pass plays. Mahomes ranked tied for eighth in Intended Air Yards per Pass Attempt at 8.8 IAY/PA, per Pro-Football-Reference, and he was second in Adjusted Net Yards per Pass Attempt at 8.38 ANY/A. He’s a good bet to carve up the Titans for a second time this year, and he’s the best piece of exposure to Kansas City’s implied total of 30 points, highest on the slate by 3.75 points.
On the other side of Mahomes is Henry, the giant slayer. Henry has steamrolled the Patriots and Ravens thus far in the playoffs, rushing for 182 yards and a score while adding a 22-yard reception against the former and squashing the latter for 195 rushing yards and seven yards on a pair of receptions. He’s rushed for more than 180 yards in three straight, and he eclipsed 150 yards from scrimmage in six of his last eight games.
Back in a Week 10 victory against the Chiefs, he thumped them for 188 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on 23 carries. Kansas City’s had issues stopping the run all year. FO ranked them 29th in rush defense DVOA during the regular season. Further, they yielded the eighth-most rushing yards (1,736) at 4.86 yards per carry to backs this year.
They also coughed up an alarming number of explosive runs down the stretch. From Week 9 through Week 17, Kansas City tied for the second-highest average explosive run rate at 15%. Even if the Titans find themselves in a multi-score deficit early, they’d be unwise to abandon the run against a defense that hemorrhages long runs. Additionally, the Titans formula for springing the upset and/or keeping this game close is obvious, and that’s riding Henry until the wheels fall off. Out of the two games, Titans at Chiefs has the greater potential for a shootout featuring fantasy points in bunches for the key parties involved. Mahomes and Henry are the top dogs in regards to key parties.